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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-08-03

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 03/08/1997 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Tsohatzopoulos receives Greek army contigent from Albania
  • Second batch of US-made missile launchers delivered
  • PYRKAL managers charged in factory blast
  • Greece objects to Turkish request on NATO exercise
  • Olympic Airways to advertise for new managing director
  • Gov't finds temporary solution for ship's refugees
  • Government appoints state bank to find power plant evaluator
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Tsohatzopoulos receives Greek army contigent from Albania

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos attended a ceremony in the port of Thessaloniki today, for the return from Albania of the Greek contigent that took part in the multinational force.

The largest part of the contigent, 278 officers and non- commissioned officers of the Greek army ELDAL unit, arrived at 9.30 am, aboard Navy transport ships "Samos" and "Hios".

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos conveyed the government's congratulations for successfully carrying out their mission, stressing that "the fact that you have all returned, is the gratest joy for us". In reference to the mission, the Defence Minister said "that the presence and initiatives of the Greek force made possible the holding of free and democratic elections in Albania, justifying the (soldiers') choice for taking part in the mission and the Greek people's support for it and thus opening the way for Greek armed forces to assume a role of "ambassador of peace" in countries faced with long crises, instability and anomaly".

The minister made reference to the human dimension of the mission, saying that the men of ELDAL offered more than just protection with "the unique and spontaneous connection" they made with the Albanian people, through the solidarity developed between Greek soldiers, Albanian citizens and the local military.

Later the Mr. Tsohatzopoulos commented on the government's new Defence policy saying that it foreshadows Greece's presence, contribution and active involvement in regions where peace, stability and security are under threat. In this way, he said, the government aims to attest the country's role as a force of peace, security stability and cooperation in the wider geopolitical region it forms part of, be that the Balkans or Caucasus.

Asked whether the conscription of women was considered, Mr. Tsohatzopouls emphatically denied such a move. He further commented on recent decisions by the Government Council of Foreign Policy, Security and Defence on National Defence policy. He said that the policy decided upon, attests the country's defence dogma as estrablished by (the late former PM) Andreas Papandreou, though extending and augmenting it. "This is achieved with the armed forces' ability to defend the country's integrity", he said "while developing a flexible, retributive capability and effective low- intensity crisis handling ability in political and military levels".

Mr. Tsohatzopoulos stressed that although he didn't expect any new crises in the Aegean, "we have made clear the framework on which we operate strategically and from a defence point of view". "Statements of good intent and the acceptance and adherence to principles are positive elements, that remain to be tested in deeds. Beyond that, the country's National Defence policy has much wider scope and therefore is based on the objective assessment of our region", he said.

Second batch of US-made missile launchers delivered

Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos today attended a ceremony to mark the final delivery of a modern weapon system.

Addressing military and civil officials at the delivery of nine US-made MLRS missile launchers, Mr. Tsohatzopoulos said that reinforcing Greece's defence capability ensures that no-one will dare dispute the nation's sovereignty. The Defence minister stressed that with the modern weaponry its military is aquiring, Greece is sending out the message that it is a force of security and stability in the region.

Today's delivery concludes the formation of the MLRS Multiple Launchers Battalion, originaly established in 1995 after the delivery of the first nine launchers. The procurement contract with the US was signed in 1995 and their total cost rises to 27 billion drachmas (US$ 9.3 million).

Army Chief of Staff Manousos Paragioudakis said that the MLRS is considered one of the most advanced weapon systems in the world and is widely used in NATO defence forces.

The mobile launchers are based on all-terrain vehicles and feature fully automated launching procedures. Their capability to launch 12 missiles simultaneously, is equivalent to the fire power of 90, 155 mm atrillery guns. Their range at the moment is 32 kilometres but that will increase to 165 and later to 300 with ammunition upgrades.

PYRKAL managers charged in factory blast

Two managers at a Greek munitions factory were charged yesterday with manslaughter and causing bodily harm through negligence, following a blast at the plant in which one worker died and 14 were injured.

The explosion yesterday at the Gunpowder and Cartridge Company (PYRKAL) in Lavrio, southeast Attica, was apparently caused by flammable gas leaking from a denitrification tower.

Charged by a public prosecutor in connection with the blast were PYRKAL's plant manager Panayotis Floros and safety manager Ilias Kokkinovasilis, who were later released.

Maintenence worker Vassilis Hatzidimas, 52, died instantly in the explosion.

Six workers, one of whom lost a leg, are being treated at the General State Hospital in Athens, and another eight were discharged on Friday from Lavrio medical centre after treatment for light injuries.

Lavrio Mayor Stavros Papastavropoulos has charged negligence at the denitrification tower, the scene of another blast on May 5.

Papastravropoulos yesterday claimed PYRKAL's management had promised to decommission the tower after the first accident, but operations had continued.

The General Confederation of Greek Labour has called for stricter implementation of worker health and safety measures. According to the Communist Party of Greece, the country has the highest rate of industrial accidents in Europe.

National Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, whose ministry supervises the company, visited the scene of the explosion on yesterday.

Greece objects to Turkish request on NATO exercise

A NATO multinational exercise, "Dynamic Mix '97", is taking place at the Xiros gulf in eastern Thrace from September 22 to October 5, with a request by Turkey that it be allowed to carry out exercises on its home territory across the island of Samos.

Following the request, Greece called on NATO's southern flank headquarters at Napoli to reject Turkey's request for air coverage of its naval test invasion, on the grounds of possible complications.

Greece said that if NATO accepts the request, it would consider the inclusion of Limnos in the exercise, using its powerful radars to monitor the Turkish exercises.

In that case, however, Turkey will request an exemption of Limnos from the exercises, calling on a NATO directive of 1984 that has created tension between the two countries in the past.

NATO's decision on the issue is pending.

The exercise includes five regional exercises in Greece coordinated by the Larissa regional headquarters. The other two southern NATO regional headquarters organising the exercise are Verona and Izmir.

Olympic Airways to advertise for new managing director

Olympic Airways is seeking a new managing director for a five-year term of office with August 29 set as the deadline for applications, the Transport and Communications ministry said yesterday.

The ministry said in a statement pay would be commensurate with experience.

Transport and Communications Minister Haris Kastanidis said recently that managing directors would be sought in the autumn for other public utilities supervised by the ministry, as well as for the national carrier's subsidiaries.

Advertising senior managerial positions in state firms is an innovation for Greece launched by Prime Minister Costas Simitis' socialist government.

Formerly the positions were held by government appointees.

Gov't finds temporary solution for ship's refugees

Public Order Minister George Romeos, in cooperation with jointly competent ministries, on Friday provided a temporary solution to the problem of the 314 illegal immigrants discovered this week aboard a Ukrainian-flagged cargo ship drifting off the island of Andros.

A ministry announcement said that the illegal immigrants, including 40 children, were to be transferred by yesterday evening to camp sites at Palea Pendeli, Nea Makri and the Lavrion Refugee Centre.

It added that each application submitted by the mainly Iraqi and Pakistani illegal immigrants to stay in Greece would be examined in accordance with Greek legislation. The Public Order Ministry clarified that it was not considering deporting any of the illegal immigrants.

The authorities had initially counted about 180 illegal immigrants aboard the "Sochol", but a further search of the ship's holds revealed more.

The children, aged between four months and 12 years, were found to be in a state of dehydration.

Two Turkish nationals found on the ship were being questioned yesterday by port authorities on suspicion of being crew members who did not manage to escape with the captain of the vessel.

The "Sochol" had left Izmir on the Turkish coast and was heading for Italy when it suffered a complete power failure.

The ship carrying the illegal immigrants was bought by a Turkish national in Istanbul for the sole purpose of transporting illegal immigrants.

According to port authorities, the ship was bought from a Ukrainian company for US$30,000 and docked at Istanbul, where immigrants boarded it over four days under the cover of night.

The two Turkish nationals being questioned told port authorities that the ship had been supplied with adequate fuel outside Izmir.

Close to 9 nautical miles off Evia, the captain and most of his crew switched the fuel supply off, told people on board they were going for supplies, and disappeared on a high-speed boat leaving no documents behind.

The ship went on black-out soon after, and was found adrift by Greek authorities.

Port authorities are looking for their Greek collaborator, while a representative of the original owners in Odessa said "Sochol" had not been completely paid off.

Government appoints state bank to find power plant evaluator

The National Investment Bank for Industrial Development (ETEBA) will undertake to search for an independent evaluator for a proposed Greek- Russian power plant in Florina, the government spokesman said on Friday.

Mr. Dimitris Reppas said the Inner Cabinet had endorsed a Cabinet proposal that a tender be called for an evaluator to determine the cost of a Public Power Corporation (DEH) plant in Florina.

The spokesman added that ETEBA would draw up the requirements for the evaluator and issue the call for tenders.

The procedure will be supervised by a three-member committee including representatives of the Inner Cabinet's secretariat, and the ministries of national economy and development.

The government places greater importance on following a transparent procedure than on getting an opinion very quickly, but estimated that the evaluator would be given four to six months to come up with an opinion on the cost of the project, the spokesma n said.

DEH would not participate in the committee, to prevent any criticism that the procedure was partial, he said.

Asked to comment on whether Prime Minister Costas Simitis would look into who was responsible for the delay in deciding on an evaluator, Mr. Reppas said this procedure was foreseen in the interstate agreement that was signed but preliminary procedures h ad to be completed before reaching this stage.

The decision to hire an independent evaluator was made following criticism from various quarters about transparency in the issue, the spokesman explained.

Replying to criticism by the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party, Mr. Reppas said ND showed political inefficiency, lack of strategy and attempts to find a political spectrum to address itself

WEATHER

Monday is expected to be fine throughout the country, with some cloud developing in the north in the afternoon. Mild northelry winds are forecast, strong in parts of the Aegean. Athens can expect almost fine weather with temperatures ranging between 22 and 33 degrees centigrade. Similar conditions for Thessaloniki with temperatures 19-29C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Friday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 285.577 Pound sterling 468.819 Cyprus pd 528.339 French franc 45.900 Swiss franc 188.678 German mark 154.727 Italian lira (100) 15.862 Yen (100) 240.362 Canadian dlr. 207.130 Australian dlr. 212.119 Irish Punt 414.358 Belgian franc 7.495 Finnish mark 51.830 Dutch guilder 137.362 Danish kr. 40.614 Swedish kr. 35.722 Norwegian kr. 37.353 Austrian sch. 21.991 Spanish peseta 1.833 Port. Escudo 1.531

(K.G.)


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